As I mentioned on Tuesday, I have been working on three characters, with one going through each of the starter areas. The third of these… the only one I didn’t roll up on opening night… was a night elf druid.
None of the starter areas are new to me. I ran through them all at least a few times before Cataclysm hit and changed everything. But of the three Teldrassil, the home of the night elves, has always been my least favorite, so I wasn’t sure I was going to roll up something there. But I did want to make a druid, I like healing as a druid more than as a priest or pally for whatever reason, and a night elf is your only choice for druids on the alliance.
But starting in Teldrassil doesn’t mean you have to stay there. The joke that isn’t a joke has always been about the run across the Wetlands that young night elves make to get to the other starter areas. The snowy Dun Morogh of the dwarves might be a bit chilly for night elves showing up in their form fitting elf shorts.
But Elwyn Forest and Westfall, that is where everybody wants to end up. It is a nice zone, your friends are probably there already, and it starts the quest line that culminates in the Deadmines.
So my early plan with the druid was to get a few levels and then try to make the run across the Wetlands.
And then I started thinking about where I might find a druid trainer and whether or not I had to be around Darnassus to get my class quest and the Moonglade teleport skill and decided not to be in too much of a hurry to get out of Teldrassil. Instead I decided to stick it out to level 10 so I could get my animal forms and all that.
So it was time to get to it. The first few quests around Shadowglen are fine. I had done them during the load test and, since opening night had passed, there wasn’t a huge crowd with which to contend. A quick group in the spider caves was the only time I really had to work with anybody.
But then it was time to go to Dolanaar.
I don’t know what it is, but almost every quest in Dolanaar brings out this low level sense of dread in me, a voice in the back of my head that says, “Oh no, not this quest.” Only it is for almost every single quest. I’d pick one up and think, “Should I just run through the Wetlands instead?”
Which is odd, because the actual quests… well… aren’t so bad. Mostly. The ordering of the quests and the locations of the quest givers are probably not sorted out in the way a modern game designer would do it. But that goes for all the zones. There is a theme of having a low level quest that send you into a high level area now and again just to keep you on your toes.
There is, however, a lot of running in Teldrassil, and it feels like much more than the other two zones. I started to work on a map with a series of arrows to show all the back and forth a young night elf has to do… including trips back and forth between Dolanaar and Darnassus which take a while… but I ended up with a blur of lines on the page obscuring the locations.
My working theory on why people leave Teldrassil began to include the idea that making the dash to Ironforge might actually involve less running than just sticking around. You certainly start to feel that hour long cool down on being able to use your hearthstone. If it were 20 minutes like current WoW you might be able to short cut some of those trips. But with an hour timer, you save it until you need it and just make the run yet again.
And, of course, there are a few brutal quests. Running into the Ban’ethil Barrow Den is a challenge, to the point that I wonder if they considered making it a real instanced dungeon at one point.
You have to run in, find a few objects, get a drop, find a guy, and so on, all while in constrained tunnels and dealing with the sudden waves of respawns that mean you have to continually clear where you are and the path to where you want to be.
It was a good place to group up and I was happy to find a random group invite waiting for me before I had made it too far. I returned the favor by clarifying how the quests down in the hole worked.
But I got through all the running and the tunnels and the various quests in Teldrassil, hit level 10, and ran off to the druid trainer in Darnassus who gave me the Moonglade teleport spell along with the usual “go talk to a guy” instructions. I figured I was set. I would go there, do a thing, get my updates, and move on.
But I have forgotten so much about the druid path. It has been a long time. While you go do a thing in Moonglade, you then have to travel to Auberdine in Darkshore to pick up the class quest thread. What to say about Darkshore? The locals are a bit of a pain.
And it doesn’t measure up to Westfall or Loch Modan in my mind, but it wasn’t completely empty. Not every night elf makes the run through the Wetlands.
The more annoying thing was that I had used my hearthstone to cover yet another run from Dolanaar to Darnassus and then was stuck in Moonglade with a 40 minute cool down still ticking. That meant finding the flight point in Moonglade… sort of where I remembered it, but the last druid I did was horde… and then take the bird to Auberdine, which runs 8 silver and 40 copper, a steep price in these early times.
Thinking to make the most of the trip, I grabbed a few of the other quests around town, just in case I could do some in passing, as I headed out to find a cave. The right cave turns out to also be the closest cave when it comes down to it.
I think you can see the stone in the cave from this angle, the one you need to sprinkle the dust on. But this cave looks quite a bit like a number of nearby caves, so I do not doubt there were some lost druids about. Also, skeleton from a player death. They are everywhere.
I got that then went off to knock out a couple of the nearby quests. They fell into some of the common tropes.
After a bit of that, enough to recoup my air fare, I took the bird from Auberdine to Darnassus… which is free, so you don’t even have to take the boat if you’re a cheapskate like me… turned everything in and got… bear form.
Again, it had been a long time since I had done the druid starter, but I was a bit surprised to walk away with bear form as my only upgrade. Oh, and a note to come back when I was level 14 for the next round.
That out of the way and not overly enthused by the Darkshore quest lines… as with the quests around Dolanaar I would read the quest text and get that feeling of dread as past efforts flooded into my mind… I decided to take the boat out of Auberdine to the Eastern Kingdoms and make a run for Ironforge.
I almost made it too. Being level 10 meant that not everything in the zone had such a huge aggro radius… aggro radius being a function of the level difference between you and the local mobs… that I was able to slip through the main areas of the swamp unmolested… though the skeletons on the path showed others had been eaten along the way.
It wasn’t until I got into the pass through to Loch Modan that a level 21 Dragonmaw Grunt caught me.
But that was far enough into the run that my wisp appeared in a Loch Modan graveyard. So I floated on back down the path to my corpse and left another skeleton behind. I got a bit of cover at the next orc gathering as there were some people on them for a quest.
After that it was into Loch Modan and then through the tunnel to the chill weather of Dun Morogh and on the way to Ironforge.
Ironforge was just a waypoint though. I went in there, got the flight point, then took the tram to Stormwind with an eye to picking up in Elwyn Forest and eventually Westfall and its warm fields, clumps of quests, chickens, and dungeon.